All breakups are difficult. Breaking up with a narcissist, however, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with in my life.
It has led me to start asking the question, at exactly what point does a breakup with a narcissist occur?
Breakups with narcissists, no matter how you define them, don’t end well. They end abruptly, usually with the two parties having completely different narratives for the same relationship. They result in multiple make-ups, a lot of damage, and no closure.
For the narcissist, however, once you enter into the relationship, it never ends. They may discard you. They may stop talking to you for weeks, months or years. You may cease to be their primary source of narcissistic supply.
Yet in their eyes, you “belong” to them, and they will always feel entitled to reach out to you, a process called “hoovering.” Despite how long it’s been, they may try to re-enter your life if only for a few minutes or perhaps for longer. In story after story of narcissists returning after years or decades, from both narcissists and survivors, this appears to hold true.
That’s not the way healthy relationships work, obviously, which leaves it to the partner to put a true end to the relationship.
So what then is and should be the actual point when the relationship ends Almost everyone in a relationship with a narcissist seesaws in and out of the relationship multiple times. This leaves partners in a sort of relationship limbo, floating in a halfway in and halfway out status.
So which time designates the actual breakup? Is it the first time the narcissist discards you? The first time you decide you’ve had enough and leave them? Somewhere in between? When?
A natural break-up point would seem to be the last time, or when we are able to put in place the concept of “no contact.”
But let’s unpack that idea a bit more.
To Go No Contact and Break Up With a Narcissist Is to Prepare
Hence, no-contact itself is not always even the true end. The problem with stating that no-contact is the end is that it relies on a promise that stretches into an unknown future. The partner often has to make that promise when emotionally weak and spiritually tired. Yet it requires adamance that whatever is instituted now will hold under conditions that cannot possibly be foreseen.
It requires a strength no human could possibly possess under the initial conditions during which they most need them.
How many times did you say you were going no-contact and it didn’t work?
Therefore, there must be a strong conviction behind no-contact. A true break-up occurs when the partner institutes no-contact and consciously intends it. The intention must carry an awareness of all of the implications of what it entatils for both the present and the future. It is a deliberate act that contains a solemn vow that one can and will never go back.
“Intending it” means any unpredictable and unknown action the narcissist takes now or later is irrelevant. The narcissist could drop by the partner’s workplace, make a fake social media account, send flowers anonymously, hire a private investigator, or dispatch a carrier pigeon, and it wouldn’t matter.
The partner wouldn’t respond. The partner wouldn’t even be rattled.
This requires psychological preparation and a discipline that most of us are not ready to take on for quite some time after learning who the narcissist really is.
I did not know it at the time, but the years it took me to finally break free, although painful, were not wasted. Despite the chemical addition and the psychological manipulation I endured, my brain was still mentally preparing me for extricating myself from the relationship. It is only now that I am out of the relationship that I can look back and see that.
I have identified eleven things that happened before I could implement no-contact and mean it. Those eleven things are a combination of thoughts I had, actions I took, and emotions that I felt.
All brought me closer to the end. These things occurred throughout five stages I believe we must go through in order to break up with the narcissist in our lives.
And what if you can’t go no contact? There’s a concept called “grey rock,” which is form of psychological no contact that will still require a mental preparation no different than what is described in this article.
I hope that by identifying all of these things, I can provide hope and illuminate a path forward for those who are struggling to go and break up with a narcissist for good.
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Don’t forget to check out these free resources:
- Taking Your Life Back After a Relationship With a Narcissist – Recovery Toolkit
- Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Dictionary
- The Best Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
A version of this article also published on Thought Catalog